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The United Nations has declared 2015 to be the International Year of Soils, and April 19-23 marks this year’s Global Soil Week. Such events, though not exactly glamorous, do not receive nearly the amount of attention they deserve.

Intact soils are an invaluable and irreplaceable resource, one that performs myriad functions in achieving the international community’s main development and environmental goals. And now they are in urgent need of protection.

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We belong to the West — that is how most Israelis see themselves and their country. In Israeli public discourse, the countries of reference on almost every topic are those of Western Europe and North America. On the face of it, this sentiment has its justifications: Israel has Nobel Prize laureates in chemistry, economics and literature. Israel has satellites circling Planet Earth. Israel has academic institutions that place high on international rankings. Israeli scientists and entrepreneurs register more international technological patents than their counterparts in most other countries. Israeli films win prizes in Europe and in the United States. Israelis feel at home when traveling to the countries of Western Europe and to the United States. Yet, on most social and economic indicators, Israel ranks closer to southern and eastern European countries than to the United States or the countries of Northern and Western Europe. Israel’s median disposable household income is similar to that of Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Greece and Spain. The same is true for the average wage of Israelis. Israel’s GDP per capita is similar to that of Spain and only a bit higher than that of Slovenia and the Czech Republic. Israel’s middle class is in retreat. Israel’s poverty rate is closer to the poverty rates of South America countries like Mexico and Chile than to those of most Western

Environment and Sustainability

Through misuse, we lose 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil every year. For the International Year of Soils in 2015, this Atlas shows, why the soil should concern us all. Jointly published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies


The UN's Sustainable Development Goals, to be established in 2015, will seek to protect ecosystems, conserve resources, and lift millions of people out of poverty. Unfortunately, the Sustainable Development Goals negotiations reflect the relatively little that is currently possible in a multilateral framework


As rate of emissions grows at alarming rates, a future of dangerous climate conditions is looming, Nevertheless, too often proposed “solutions” are designed on wishful thinking, political agendas, or unfeasible technologies, rather than addressing climate change root causes. “net-zero emissions”, one of the latest faulty “solutions”, suggests that the world can continue producing emissions as long as there is a way to offset them.

Gender and Democracy


Feminist Rereading is never enough to correct the harms done to women by the subordination suffered and engendered by religious texts. And only a state, dedicated to universal, human rights, can best mitigate the effects of those harms.


Israel’s Declaration of Independence of 1948 specifically refers to Israel as “The Jewish State”, while simultaneously guaranteeing “the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex”. This assumed legal standing through the delegation of personal status to religious authorities (for the majority of the country’s citizens, to the monopolistic control of the orthodox Chief Rabbinate). Since, from the outset, matters of marriage and divorce in the Jewish tradition discriminate against women, aspects of gender inequality have been embedded into the structure of the state.


The Israeli government announced that it is establishing a team to formulate a working plan to advance UN Resolution 1325 in Israel. The resolution calls for women’s equal inclusion in all aspects of decision-making, especially around issues of peace and security. is this a sign that gender awareness is spreading in Israel? (Lilith Blog)

Foreign and regional security policy

Over 200,000 people with no legal status live in Israel today. There are another 4 million in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. All of these people are directly affected by Israeli elections but they have not right to vote. This is what they have to say — about the Right and the Left, the ‘demographic threat,’ peace, war, democracy and dictatorship (+972 Magazine).



The ‘Zionist Camp’ needs the Arab parties in order to form a government. Its decision to vote for disqualifying Zoabi makes that support less and less likely (+972 Magazine).


Israel is heading towards early elections this March. Much of the public discourse is focused on the chances of the "Zionist Camp" to form the next coalition or on the prospect of a third term for a Netanyahu led government. Even though rightists still have quite a good chance of forming the next government again, this election is turning out decidedly different from those in recent memory.

German-Israeli Dialogue


Prior to the March 17th elections, much of the public discourse was focused on the question as to whether the elections will bring about a political change in Israel. In the latest round of Jerusalem Talks, we discussed the future social and political opportunities for the Israeli society.


"Panic Wins" reads the headline of Germany's leading political magazine Spiegel. The paper summarizes Israel's election campaign and its spectacular outcome as follows: For some time it looked as if the election campaign concentrated on social issues, but then Netanyahu's short-term strategy began to work. At the ballot-box, most Israelis shared one sentiment with their prime minister – fear.


The basic federal law in Germany begins with the words "Aware of its responsibility before God". With regard to approximately one-third of the population, which is not affiliated with any religious community, this is a bold statement. What is then the strutural relathionship between the German "secular state" and religion?


The Heinrich Boell Stiftung (HBS) is the German green foundation affiliated with the German Green Party. We are a non-profit organization striving to promote environmental justice and sustainable development, gender equality and human rights and to enhance democracy. In addition, we work to promote German-Israeli dialogue and seek to make a contribution in the fields of foreign and security policy. With headquarters in Berlin, Germany, the HBS has 30 offices worldwide and cooperates with local partners in more than 60 countries. 

The website of the Israel office displays our four program areas as well as publications, information on our project partners about the foundation. You are invited to visit often for further updates and please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or comments


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